Global population growth and urbanisation will lead to a production of 3.4 billion tons of waste in 2050. It means that global waste will increase by 70% compared to 2020. Waste management is essential for sustainable cities and communities, but often low-income countries neglect it. Poor waste management is damaging human health and the environment.
Waste management systems are essential for building a circular economy, where products are designed and optimised for reuse and recycling. This helps to promote efficient economic growth by minimising the environmental impact. Uncollected and badly disposed waste have significant impact on health and the environment.
Countries can be supported by funding for waste management through these solutions:
TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
About the relationship between technologies and environment, greater efficiency, less impact and better alternatives would be needed to promote development that is truly sustainable. Greater efficiency means the optimisation of the yield of resources.
Today much of the energy is lost due to the use of poorly efficient technologies, the waste and improper use. This happens both at the level of energy production plants and at the level of the end user. For example, in thermal power plants, where polluting resources such as fossil fuels are burned, the average efficiency is 40%. This means that only 40 units of fuel energy are transformed into electricity, while the other 60 are dissipated in the form of heat.
The most modern plants, made with new technologies, instead achieve yields of 65% but still have a high loss. An already feasible solution is given by micro-cogeneration systems, which manage to recover the heat emitted by combustion and use it in heating systems as thermal energy.
In this way, more than 90% of the energy potentially present in the starting fuel is exploited. In addition, it is necessary to reduce the environmental impact of human activities as much as possible. Choosing the best alternatives means replacing polluting technologies with other non-polluting ones, starting from the sources of energy production.
One of the main causes of the greenhouse effect is the use of electricity in homes. Laws, Directives and Regulations, including those to improve the thermal insulation of buildings, can substantially contribute to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.
Each citizen can contribute through small every-day actions. For example, the greater the energy efficiency of the bulbs and appliances that are used, the lower the impact on the environment. In the past, incandescent lamps were mainly used, but they dissipate a lot of energy in the form of heat.
Today fluorescent lamps are becoming increasingly popular which, thanks to significantly higher efficiency values, enable to save up to 75% of energy. They have a higher cost than incandescent ones, but they last much longer and consume less.
As regards refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, lamps and electric ovens, in Italy it is mandatory to have a label that illustrates its characteristics, including annual electricity consumption and energy efficiency class, represented by a letter from A (it guarantees the lowest energy consumption) to G (it is considered the worst).
Obviously, given that 20% of the emissions are linked to the industrial sector and a similar percentage represents the emissions caused by the consumption of fuels by motor vehicles, it is essential to foster the rationalisation and energy recovery also in the production systems and to optimise the transport system.
Renewable energies, the solution for the environment
Besides fossil fuels (oil, coal, natural gas) and nuclear (uranium), which have limited availability and whose use has an environmental impact, there are energy sources that are considered inexhaustible, thanks to their ability to regenerate in a more or less short time.
These include solar energy (photovoltaic and thermal), wind energy, hydroelectric energy, geothermal energy, energy derived from biomass, energy from the sea. Now researchers are developing increasingly efficient technologies, to be able to use these sources as well as possible.
Let’s see these energies resources together:
SUSTAINABLE TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology wondered about the relationship between technologies and environment, in particular about those technologies with a positive impact on humanity and the planet, directly asking philanthropist Bill Gates to provide a list of future innovations ranging from artificial intelligence to energy and from sustainability to health: